The impact of COVID-19 on the economy is staggering, costing the world economy up to an estimated $4.1 trillion globally. Business owners and their employees have been dealing with feelings of helplessness and worry during the spread of this virus, wondering if their companies and jobs will survive.
The Irish proverb says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." We may have been underprepared and overwhelmed when this pandemic struck. We may still feel fear and frustration. But just as the proverb reminds us, we have the opportunity to influence the path we take, and that starts with what you can control: your message.
Some organizations went into this crisis having already prepared a strategy. The spokespersons were media trained and the points of escalation and responsibilities of leadership were already well defined. It’s been difficult to watch some thrive and others scramble, wondering what role a communications strategy (or the absence of one) has played in their success or struggle.
I know we are all eager to roll up our proverbial sleeves and “get back to business.” We want normal. We want stability. We want purpose. You may be one of those that didn’t have the pre-pandemic preparations in place, but it doesn't mean all opportunity is lost.
The way you communicate the restoration of your business is just as important as the restoration itself. Even if you have kept your doors open, the adjustments you’ve made during this crisis need to be communicated to your clients, customers, employees, and stakeholders. While the strategy is multi-faceted, it should be built around three important things:
What measures are you taking to ensure your employees and customers are safe when your business is back in full swing? Your plan of action should include a well-thought-out strategy on new protocols and policy changes, and it should be shared through the appropriate channels, segmenting and addressing all stakeholders.
Reassurance is key in these unprecedented times. Your stakeholders need to know what precautions you’re taking to prioritize their health and protection over making a profit. Take this opportunity to build your credibility and be transparent about any setbacks. Business ownership is a marathon, not a sprint. Any efforts to rush reopening, cut corners, or hide potential risks can result in the need for damage control or the loss of consumer confidence. Reputation is everything; don’t take this lightly.
How have you been innovative during the crisis? What have you learned that will help your company move forward post-pandemic? Are there opportunities to share with the media and other communications channels? Create visibility for your company by shaping your narrative to inspire (and even lead) others to be safe in their own business practices.
The changes we make moving forward and how we communicate them will determine the trajectory of our businesses long after we return to our “new normal.”